Is your child enrolled in a French immersion class? Do you want them to keep practicing over the summer without sacrificing the fun? Rest assured, your child can continue to learn French and still enjoy summer to the fullest. You can even ease a young child into early immersion. Here are some easy tips and interesting ideas to help your kid learn French without having to resort to worksheets:
- A little bit at a time is often the way to go: 15 minutes a day can go a long way over time. For instance, you can work a language break, with or without technology, into your child’s routine.
- Pique their interest: Choose activities in French that your child enjoys. Children will be motivated and willing to practice a second language if it’s tied into their favourite pastime. Whether your child is reading a book, playing a game or doing arts and crafts, they can always follow a tutorial, a video or instructions in their second language to keep them practicing while they have fun.
- Know your child’s actual language level: Academic results can be misleading. You can figure out your child’s language level yourself by paying close attention to them. Children can lose interest in a language if they find it too hard or too easy.
Here are some fun educational activities that will keep your child riveted as they improve their French:
- Programs at the library: Sign up your child for activities and programs in French. We offer French‑language programs year round: see the Programs and events section of the OPL website and select “Français” in the “Language” filter. Beginners can come to our French or bilingual storytimes to pick up a few French words and to tune their ears to the sounds of the language.
- Music: Download music in French for your child or borrow a CD from OPL. Hoopla has a collection of French songs, including Disney albums: go to the Music section and select “French” in the “Languages” filter. Learning is easy when your child can sing a chorus over and over again every time they’re in the car. If you have a toddler, you might want to play them a few French lullabies. You’ll find a wealth of nursery rhymes, fingerplays and songs selected and performed by librarians for kids on OPL’s YouTube channel: 1,2,3 on chante!
- Television programs and shows: TV and videos are a great way to stay in touch with a language. Curio.ca, a CBC and Radio-Canada platform with a variety of quality educational content, can be accessed through the OPL website. You can also find fun videos in French on Just for Kids; all you have to do is add the word “French” to your search. On Kanopy, you’ll find series like Little Pim: French for Kids and Bonjour les amis, which are a fun way to introduce children to French. Francolab junior, a TV5 Québec Canada initiative, offers a collection of educational videos for young children, and Francolab has videos for older kids. When it comes to fun TV shows, you can always count on TFO for elementary and secondary school-aged kids, and Mini TFO for toddlers and preschoolers.
- Reading: For all the little bookworms out there, OPL staff have created a list of recommendations specifically for kids in French immersion:
- You can also get personalized recommendations by booking a one‑on‑one consultation with an information expert at OPL.
If you have trouble reading to your child in French, or if you’re just looking for an eye-catching animated book, TumbleBook Library has a rich online collection of animated talking picture books that are perfect for learning to read.
For even more titles, check out Cantook Station, an online platform that specializes in eBooks in French, including children’s books, classics and books for early readers. Magazine fans can try Flipster for three different French‑language magazines for kids: Les Explorateurs, Curium and Les Débrouillards.
- Writing: Encourage your child to write. Letters, greeting cards, grocery lists—anything goes when it comes to vocabulary practice! Give your child a notebook to use as a diary, or help them customize their notebook online. This could be just the thing your child needs to fall in love with writing. Over the summer, you’ll also find story starters and plenty of other activities on the TD Summer Reading Club.
- Fun, games and recreational activities: If your child isn’t a big fan of reading, go with something you know they love. Use OPL’s online resources to create an account for Toutapprendre, a learning platform that offers lessons on a range of interesting topics, such as music, sewing, coding and so much more! In the same vein, the Ottawa Public Library YouTube channel has videos on arts and crafts and science activities, as well as game ideas for kids. Hello-World and Net are two more websites with games for preschoolers in French.
If you prefer classes with exercises, you can look at out our L’amour des temps database for grammar lessons for older students, check out the Canadian Parents for French (Ontario) website for a compendium of language learning websites on the FSL Resources for Students webpage, or visit the Bonjour du Monde website for a variety of exercises, tests and learning games sorted by language level.
There are so many great ways to practice French outside of the classroom, and the many joys of summer can absolutely double as excellent language learning opportunities.
This blog post was written by Karima from the Greenboro Branch.